How I love Bruce Crichton’s letters – he wields a fine vocabulary with skill and elegance – but I must take issue with his panning of the Concorde airliner as a waste of taxpayers’ money, and “a waste of time and effort that created nothing of value” (17 March).
In the first place it kept a significant number of the super-rich off the aircraft that the rest of us use, which was an invaluable social benefit – you can’t value everything in terms of pounds, shillings and bawbees.
Secondly, the wasting of taxpayers’ money is what politicians and senior civil servants do: it is their function.
At least with Concorde we had 27 years of experiencing the most elegant of aircraft in the sky above us, unlike the billions lost on defence equipment that never was, computer technologies that are written off, and foreign aid which goes straight into the pockets of corrupt foreign government officials to sweeten deals for British export companies which pay taxes offshore.
My family and I spent a summer’s morning on the boundary of Filton airfield in the 1970s watching the prototype Concorde, shadowed by its British “chase” plane, making touch-and-go landings – and, with apologies to the women in my life, I have never seen anything more beautiful.
Bruce Crichton shows a lack of lateral thinking.
It would indeed be unique for the targeted product of any huge leap forward in technology to directly reimburse its costs – the very reason why state interference, as he calls it, is needed. Invariably it is the spin-off to other areas that is the real long-term benefit.
In the case of Concorde this covered a very wide field – computer modelling, aircraft engineering, materials technology and medicine, to name but a few.
(Dr) A McCormick
Bruce Crichton is incorrect to judge Concorde on its passenger operating profit alone. In development and engineering it was privately conceded by Nasa to have been a greater achievement than Apollo 11, and in terms of national prestige was of immense value to Britain.
Concorde technology was also used in subsequent commercial and military aircraft. In total effect, the taxpayer did get value for money.